Two Democrats are vying in the June 5 primary to challenge Rep. Carlos J. Moorhead (R-Glendale) in the November election.
Educators David Bayer, 46, of Burbank and Thomas G. Vournas, 66, of Altadena are neophyte candidates who want to square off with the well-funded career politician who has represented the GOP-dominated congressional district for 18 years. Moorhead was an attorney and a state assemblyman before he went to Washington in 1972.
The Democrats, one of whom will appear on the November ballot along with two minor-party candidates, say Moorhead has lost touch with the 22nd Congressional District.
But the chances of unseating Moorhead, dean of California's 18-member GOP caucus in Congress, are considered so slim that in some election years no Democrat has even tried. Moorhead has typically won reelection with 70% or more of the vote.
The 22nd District sprawls from Glendale, La Canada Flintridge and La Crescenta to Canyon Country, Acton, Agua Dulce, and parts of Burbank and Palmdale. More than 55% of its nearly 300,000 registered voters are Republicans; about 35% are Democrats.
Bayer, director of adult education for the Burbank Unified School District, has the endorsement of the California Democratic Party and its local chapters. He said he is conducting a grass-roots campaign before area groups and on campuses to emphasize his advocacy of abortion rights, family planning, a national health program, and aggressive measures to clean the air and protect the environment.
Bayer has raised less than $10,000 in his primary campaign but said that if he wins the primary, he will try to raise as much as $100,000 to take on Moorhead in November.
Vournas, a native of Los Angeles who has taught in public schools for 40 years, said he has long campaigned for Democratic candidates in local, state and national elections. But he said he decided to run for office himself this year because of his growing frustration "over the serious problems that the U.S. faces that are not being dealt with or even recognized." A self-described liberal, Vournas calls for better education, health care and living conditions for poor children and workers.
Vournas said his campaign "is very limited, with just friends and family doing the labor and pounding the beat." He said he has no special financial or group backing.
Also appearing on the November ballot will be Libertarian William H. Wilson, 49, of Pasadena, a compensation analyst who represented the Libertarian Party as a candidate in the 55th State Assembly District in 1988.
Running under the Peace and Freedom Party banner is Jan B. Tucker, 35, a private investigator and frequent candidate who has run for a variety of offices since 1974, including lieutenant governor in 1978.
Tucker was among a group of demonstrators who protested Moorhead's stand on abortion, which the congressman opposes even in cases of rape and incest, at a rally in front of Glendale High School last year. He is one of six congressional candidates in California recommended for endorsement by the California chapter of the Political Action Committee of the National Organization for Women.
All the challengers said their goal is to undermine the apparently solid support behind Moorhead, 68, who has kept a relatively low profile during his career. Moorhead typically shuns the spotlight and busies himself with technical issues such as patent protection, hydroelectric power and telecommunications.
In the past, Moorhead has declined to debate challengers, saying he saw no reason to do so. This year, he has more than $700,000 in his campaign war chest, and his supporters are predicting another easy victory.